Cast & Crew
After the beloved elementary schoolteacher of Lakeview gets married, William "Curley" Benson and his classmates make plans to get rid of their new teacher, whom they believe to be the crotchety, middle-aged Miss Johnson. Miss Payne, the county supervisor, visits Miss Johnson and discovers that the new teacher is actually Miss Johnson's niece Mildred, a pretty young woman who taught athletics in the Navy. Miss Payne sternly warns Mildred that she is too immature to handle the spirited children of Lakeview. On the morning of the first day of school, after Mildred offers the unsuspecting Curley a ride to school, he tells her about the pranks that he and his friends are going to play on "Pigglepuss," their new teacher, including putting Curley's pet frog, Croakey on her chair. Curley also confesses their hope that Miss Johnson will quit so that they can spend the day fishing. At the school, after loading his "rocketship" car with smoking flares and aiming an exhaust tube through a classroom window, Curley takes his seat and discovers that his new teacher is none other than the kindhearted Mildred. She teaches the children a lesson by making each one a victim of his own prank, and Curley, humiliated, flees. When the schoolroom fills with exhaust, Curley is blamed, but is chasing the toy car, not driving it. The car has been taken by "Dis" and "Dat," two mischievous children, who send it careening wildly across fields and into a haystack. Miss Payne appears on the scene and crashes her car while trying to avoid the moving haystack, then angrily decries Mildred for her inability to discipline. Mildred, meanwhile, has taken the children on a picnic with her aunt, and offers to teach them baseball, football and boxing in exchange for good grades. As Mildred boxes with Hank, a tough student, Miss Payne arrives to scrutinize her performance. Curley emerges to help, but inadvertently sends Hank flying into the lake. Dejected, he leaves the picnic. After the children enthusiastically thank Miss Payne for Mildred, Miss Payne explains to Mildred that when the classroom filled with smoke, Curley was chasing his "rocketship," not driving it. Mildred finally finds Curley hiding and crying, afraid he will be expelled and Mildred, fired. She reassures him with cake and ice cream, however, and picks up Croakey.
Guy L. Beach
John W. Boyle
Robert F. Mcgowan
Robert F. Mcgowan
John H. Morse
Jerome Pycha Jr.
Hal Roach Jr.
Curley was released as Part I of The Hal Roach Comedy Carnival, which had a total running time of 112 minutes. Part II was The Fabulous Joe (see below). Although both parts were separately copyrighted, their certificates were issued on the same day. Curley, which was produced in the style of Hal Roach's "Our Gang" series, was later released under the title The Adventures of Curley and His Gang, the title of the viewed print.
Because of a scene in Curley in which a black girl is shown in a classroom with white children, and the scenes showing "Dis" and "Dat," black actors, playing with "Curley" and his friends, the film was banned in Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee by Lloyd T. Binford, octagenarian chairman of the Memphis Board of Censors. In a letter to United Artists found in the MPAA/PCA file on the film at the AMPAS Library, Binford stated that the board "was unable to approve your 'Curley' picture with the little Negroes as [the] South does not permit Negroes in white school[s] nor recognize social equality between the races even in children."
In a September 19, 1947 press release Hal Roach said, "I started making 'Our Gang' comedies many years ago and they played all over the country including the South. No serious objection was voiced to the showing of a colored youngster as a member of the group. Young children of various races play together without friction until their elders inoculate them with the venom of race prejudice. The aged Mr. Binford is still fighting the Civil War, apparently forgetting that white and Negro service men in American uniforms fought and died together in two world wars to defend and protect the basic rights Binford would destroy."
According to news items, Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Association, joined Roach and United Artists in suing the Memphis censor board, attacking its constitutionality and asking the Tennessee courts to decree that talking motion pictures are protected by freedom of speech and cannot be censored by state and local authorities. Hollywood Reporter reported in March 1950 that after the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the right of the censorship board to act as it did, and sidestepped the issue of freedom of speech as it affects films, United Artists and the MPAA appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On May 8, 1950, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal of the case.
Curley was one of Roach's "streamlined features," a series of short comedies intended to fill the second half of a double bill. The first streamlined feature was the 1941 film Tanks a Million (see below).